A couple have spoken about what it's like to dedicate 50 years to volunteering, both locally and nationally. 

As part of Volunteers’ Week 2024 – from June 3-9 – Christian Aid is joining other organisations to celebrate 40 years of the movement, share stories of its volunteers and inspire people to sign up for a role.

Northallerton couple Michael and Rowena Webster were inspired more than 50 years ago to give up some free time to volunteer for the international development agency Christian Aid.

Approaching its anniversary, the charity was set up in 1945 to give aid to refugees in Europe after World War Two.

The Northern Echo: Michael and Rowena WebsterMichael and Rowena Webster (Image: CHRISTIAN AID)

It works alongside local partners, providing urgent, practical help in times of crisis and beyond to vulnerable communities worldwide, while highlighting suffering, tackling injustice and championing people’s rights.

Supernumerary Methodist Minister, Michael started out helping with house-to-house collections and sponsored walks and is now chairman of the Northallerton and Area Christian Aid Committee.

Rowena’s first involvement goes back around 70 years to when she was a Brownie and gave out envelopes to homes.

Michael said: “Over the years, we’ve helped organise collections, baked cakes, joined Parliamentary lobbies, written letters, spoken at church services and school assemblies, and travelled to COP summits and G7 lobbies from Copenhagen to Birmingham.

“Volunteering is a vital expression of our faith, demonstrating our commitment to justice and continuing Christ’s ministry to those most in need. It gives an important insight into the lives of people whose situation is far beyond our experience.

“Christian Aid is addressing the root causes of poverty, including climate chaos, tax injustice, pollution, and challenging governments and corporate institutions to face their responsibilities.”

Rowena said volunteering with Christian Aid gives her a sense of being part of an effective organisation.

She added: “We like the way it operates and enjoy working with our local group who are great. It gives you a sense of being part of something so much bigger.

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“Anyone thinking of volunteering should go ahead and sign up - you will get a sense of achievement, making a contribution to addressing fundamental injustices in our world.”

Senior Volunteering Officer, Ian Hind, said supporters are the backbone of Christian Aid's mission to end poverty. He added: “Without their unwavering dedication and commitment, we simply couldn't make the impact we do. We invite everyone to join us in this fight against poverty and stand with us as we make a difference.

“We have all kinds of roles from fundraising to helping at festivals and we’d be delighted to have more people sign up and be a part of something truly inspiring.”